“if practice makes perfect–And nobody’s perfect – then why practice?”

We owe a debt of gratitude to American President, John Adams, who wrote this proverb in his diary in 1761.  One wonders- What was he thinking when Adams penned these words?

As for myself, we grew up practicing, practicing, practicing.

  We practiced penmanship, Endeavoring to get our letters as rounded and connected as those of Sister Margaret Mary, who taught third grade; when you learned “cursive” and received a small bottle of dark blue ink to place in a hole in a in the top right hand side of our desks.

We practiced reciting our times tables until you got them all right, through twelves and could say them in your sleep.  I still can.

We practiced long division in fifth grade and had to stand in front of the blackboard solving the problems  posed by Sister Doris Marie.

Sister also loved diagramming sentences and we did those on the blackboard too.  You practiced diagramming and long division  throughout the year until you could do those in your sleep, too.

I did not learn fractions. My piano lesson coincided with Arithmetic class  the year we practiced fractions.  I did not practice my piano lessons either.  But–coasted, oblivious, through two years piano lessons that cost my mother twenty five cents each.

But I did practice (hoping for perfection) how to make a pie crust that  was light and feathery and golden brown and how to

make muffins,




tea breads,

sponge jellyroll cake,

butter cream frosting,

chocolate glaze,


butterscotch pudding,

Meringue that did not “weep”,

cream puffs and eclairs,

peanut butter cookies,

Béchamel sauce,


and Grape Jelly, ruining several of my mother’s kitchen dish towels in the process.

I was happy to practice anything in the kitchen, seeking perfection but when I fell short, two younger brothers sat on the back steps Eating up my mistakes,

Al of which leads me to conclude we are happy to practice until perfect what we love most and if you can’t be perfect, keep someone nearby who is willing to destroy the evidence. (After my brothers grew up, as well as my sons–that person destroying the evidence would have been Bob.)


Sandra Lee Smith

February 20 , 2009




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